Interview by Tara Kenny, Photos by Aimee Han
What are you doing on the night of Thursday July 19th? I don’t really care. It’s probably not going to be nearly as fun as letting a beautiful girl “punch you in the face with her fierce ladyness” in one of Melbourne’s finest jazz clubs, Bennets Lane. The girl is Kristina Miltiadou and the punching will be metaphorical and painless. You might even like it. Stalk her here for more details. In the meantime cast your eyes below to learn about what makes Miltiadou tick (hint: a passion for music and avocado and fetta mash).
I’ll level with you—I’m waiting to interview Kristina Miltiadou and I’m kind of mad at her. Ever polite, I left her to choose the locale of our pow-wow. Like a normal person she chose somewhere close to her. For me this resulted in a series of confused Google map fails, a frenzied phone-a-friend and an uncomfortably long walk in shoes that are rubbing on an emerging corn. I’m late and she’s not here yet. Even worse, I know I’m going to be out of my depth. She’s a musician. My favourite radio show is Richard Mercer’s love song dedications.
Doing my obligatory night before interview stalk, I listen to Kristina’s first single, Carousel. I’m relieved. It’s not the kind of nothing indie-folk drivel that is appropriate for no activity other than suicide but remains so persistently prevalent. I find myself listening to it on repeat, scared to skip to the next song because I knew it’s going to pale in comparison. The frankness of her lyrics remind me of Kate Nash (a good thing), so I email and tell her so. Kristina’s response? “Maybe don’t compare me too much to Kate Nash, I’m not so into that comparison. Speak soon, XX.” Fuck.
When she does arrive, she starts talking –fast. I’m momentarily distracted and forget I’m in a bad mood. I forget for the whole two hours. I don’t remember until she’s gone and I’m walking home in a world that seems suddenly quiet and still, passionless and grey. It’s then I realise I’m not the first person to be disarmed by the Kristina Miltiadou effect.
There’s something different about her. To start, her dialogue is consistently unfiltered, abrupt but somehow never jarring. After apologising for her lateness and requesting my permission to order, Krissy decides on avocado and fetta mash on toast. It arrives and my companion’s reaction commands the attention of all those in a ten metre radius. “Excuse me! Where is the fetta? There’s meant to be fetta in this!” The startled waitress locates the absent fetta amidst the avocado, just not immediately visible. Tricky. United by adversity Krissy and the aforementioned waitress bond over a shared love of avocado and fetta, the perfect bedfellows. This seemingly mundane interaction is typical of Miltiadou’s way; she knows what she wants (a good meal) and isn’t afraid to ask for it. I’ve got food/life envy.
This frankness reappears when, once we’ve covered how to make your own coffee, Beyonce vs. Rihanna as feminist role models and the perks of living as a vagrant, the conversation finally touches on what we are here to discuss: Kristina Miltiadou, musician. “I know I’m good”, she says. Spoken without a hint of egocentricity, this statement somehow seems okay from the mouth of Miltiadou. Perhaps that’s because she is free of the unattractive bitchiness that could be expected of such a striking girl raised on stage. It’s clear that Krissy views Melbourne’s relatively small female music scene as a community rather than a competition. Australian Idol this is not, even if there are Covers.
Watching Covers, a collaborative project featuring Kristina and a rotating door of local artists who interpret everything from Destiny’s Child to Cat Stevens to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, will make you want to do stuff. Stuff like go out dancing, escape to a farm for the weekend and call your Dad to tell him you love him, or at least think about doing those things. You’ll probably just watch the videos. Inspired by Kristina’s need for constant creation and a simple desire to “be open, DO stuff”, Covers is difficult to describe and impossible to pigeonhole…and that’s kind of the point.
As we discuss her musical evolution of the last four years, which have seen Kristina sign to record label Etcetc and collaborate with the likes of producer Francois Tetaz and rapper M Phases, the headstrong girl who sits before me divulges she hasn’t always been this way. Formidable musical development has been mirrored by a personal journey from “scared and insecure” studious nerd to self-assured, considered, whole lotta woman. I find these disparate versions of Kristina Miltiadou difficult to rectify. What’s her secret? Did she find God, go on an Eat Pray Love-esque journey of self-discovery or perhaps a hard knock rock’n’roll lifestyle can be credited? No quick fix, sadly. Apparently “you don’t get anywhere in life without working your ass off.” I knew the secret to success and inner peace would be something boring.
I’m won back with Kristina’s five year plan. Big fat Greek wedding, mortgage and mini Miltiadou’s? Nah. She’d rather be a female musician who “punches you in the face with her fierce ladyness.” Richard Mercer, today I met a girl with the voice of a Greek Australian Nelly Furtado circa the noughties, the beauty of Athena and a fiery passion for both music and fetta cheese. I think I’m in love. Now play Carousel for me one more time, please.